"Look at her!" he said to his old boon companions and hers, who were as much awed as he. "Lord! who would think she was the strapping, handsome shrew that swore, and sang men's songs to us, and rode to the hunt in breeches."
He was awed at the thought of paying fatherly visits to her house, and would have kept away, but that she was kind to him in the way he was best able to understand.
"I am country-bred, and have not the manners of your town men, my lady," he said to her, as he sat with her alone on one of the first mornings he spent with her in her private apartment. "I am used to rap out an oath or an ill-mannered word when it comes to me. Dunstanwolde has weaned you of hearing such things--and I am too old a dog to change."
"Wouldst have thought I was too old to change," answered she, "but I was not. Did I not tell thee I would be a great lady. There is naught a man or woman cannot learn who hath the wit."
"Thou hadst it, Clo," said Sir Jeoffry, gazing at her with a sort of slow wonder. "Thou hadst it. If thou hadst not -!" He paused, and shook his head, and there was a rough emotion in his coarse face. "I was not the man to have made aught but a baggage of thee, Clo. I taught thee naught decent, and thou never heard or saw aught to teach thee. Damn me!" almost with moisture in his eyes, "if I know what kept thee from going to ruin before thou wert fifteen."
She sat and watched him steadily.
"Nor I," quoth she, in answer. "Nor I--but here thou seest me, Dad- -an earl's lady, sitting before thee."
"'Twas thy wit," said he, still moved, and fairly maudlin. "'Twas thy wit and thy devil's will!"